A Sony patent reveals that a new DualSense could include revamped analog sticks that utilize hydraulics for precision input.
Both the PS5 and DualSense had their fair share of issues after launch. There is currently a lawsuit underway claiming that the console launched with a known defect. Meanwhile, DualSense hasn’t escaped drifting problems with a US law firm that filed a class-action lawsuit against them last year (via IGN (opens in new tab)). This appears to have failed, with related pages removed from the company website (opens in new tab). But controller bypass issues (and being sued by them) could become a thing of the past for Sony.
Subway (opens in new tab) spotted a patent (opens in new tab) filed by Sony for a controller with “a collapsible control stick using a fluid”. The fluid in question is not Newtonian – think cream, ketchup, quicksand. Or in this context, something other than a condiment, dessert, or mini deathtrap. It is a fluid that changes viscosity under force. So the ketchup becomes more liquid when you shake it, for example. Whereas you can fill a pool with cream and walk through it without sinking, perfectly demonstrated in this Brainiac: Science Abuse Episode (opens in new tab).
The part of the patent that delves into the background of the invention separates joytsticks, analog nubs and thumbsticks. It details the comfort and portability of each, before concluding:
“The thumbstick is more user-friendly than the analog and is smaller than a joystick, but still not very portable. The thumbstick protrusion sticks out of the controller surface and can be captured easily [in] clothing or other thin materials, making the thumbstick prone to breakage.
“It is within this context that the embodiments of the present invention arise.”
The diagram above is of a retractable analog stick with no non-Newtonian fluid present. In this case, the axis retracts into the thumbstick body and both are “freely rotating together around a pivot center within the controller body”.
The image below is the diagram depicting the inclusion of non-Newtonian fluids in the controller. The thumb stick “includes a liquid interface surface” throughout the body has a cavity filled with non-Newtonian fluid.
If the user wants to retract the thumb, “slow pressure can be applied to the axis of the thumb” to “displace the non-Newtonian fluid into the reservoir”. A quick, hard push, on the other hand, will have the opposite effect.
“Due to the nature of the non-Newtonian fluid, a rapid application of pressure to the thumb axis will cause an increase in the viscosity of the non-Newtonian fluid and the fluid will not be displaced.
“So, during use, the axis of the thumb does not retract into the body of the thumb because pressure during use is not applied slowly enough to displace non-Newtonian fluid.”
But what does that mean for practical, everyday use of a new and improved PS5 DualSense?
With revamped analog sticks, the DualSense’s input controls can be greatly improved. Sticks are often used for movement and aiming, so they can become much more subtle.
They can also be used to wedge in additional ‘entry buttons’ given the folding aspect of the design. And they could offer greater range of motion and control in sports games, flight simulators and the like.
What this will mean for current games that use L3 and R3 inputs – specifically if it’s in a way that counters how these new analog sticks work in terms of speed and power – we don’t know. But we can’t see Sony releasing a DualSense Pro that isn’t compatible with the current PS5 title backlog.
Of course, the existence of a patent does not mean that we will see the idea come to fruition in a physical product. But it’s interesting to see what Sony’s minds are up to.